As the cancer of Big Government exponentially increases, so too does the frequency of direct contact with its employees. Whether that contact occurs in the form of a traffic stop, an airport security checkpoint, or as an armed raid on your home, deliberately avoiding the police as a way of life is not sufficient anymore in preserving whatever scraps of freedom you have left. Therefore, the most useful political skill any American can learn is how to successfully navigate the labyrinth of a police interrogation, with the singular goal of emerging from it as minimally harmed as possible.
Larken Rose was absolutely correct when he predicted that the most common response he’d receive from the public towards his question of When Should You Shoot a Cop? revealed most alarmingly just to what lengths many taxpayers will go to justify the initiation of violence by police against their fellow citizens. These cop groupies have openly advocated for the theft, kidnapping, and even murder of anyone who politely suggests that American citizens still retain their natural right of self-defense, even against those men who wear blue costumes adorned with shiny jewelry. I mention this only to illustrate the depth of indoctrination and social conditioning these propagandized individuals have been subjected to since their earliest years, besides my contention that it would be reasonable to infer that these cop groupies would also be predisposed to be the same people that, when serving as jurors, will tend to lend more credence towards anything a police officer says rather than any exculpatory evidence presented in court.
Remember the second sentence from the Miranda warning?:
“Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
Well, if that’s true, then let’s extrapolate a bit here. If you say a lot, a lot can be used against you; if you say little, then little can be used against you. Thus, if you say nothing, then nothing can be used against you; so, it would make sense to say as little as possible, if anything at all.
What you are dealing with here in your encounters with the police is essentially a legalistic flytrap. Talking to the police automatically creates an expert witness against you, and anything you tell them cannot be used as exculpatory, usually because of how the rules of evidence are written. Both Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(A) & Texas Rule of Evidence 801(e)(2)(A) say:
“A statement is not hearsay if the statement is offered against a party and is the party’s own statement, in either an individual or a representative capacity.”
This is precisely why it’s the wisest course to say nothing, deny nothing, and give them nothing to work with; it’s also the same reason why it is utterly foolish to make statements, no matter how innocent they appear. Remember the following adage:
“The master asks the questions, and the servant answers them.”
Are you the master or the servant during a police encounter? This question is answered by your own behavior, so act accordingly. If you remember nothing else, then remember to never make statements, and only ask questions. Rephrase your statements in the form of a question if you must, but never admit to anything, if you can help it (I understand this is rather difficult if the questions posed to you are seemingly innocuous ones, such as during a traffic stop when the officer is asking whether the address on your driver’s license is your current one, but if you do answer such questions, keep in mind he is also trying to get a baseline reading on you, which he could use later during the encounter to manipulate you).
Why should you learn how to handle yourself during a police interrogation at all? Law enforcement officers are neither your friend nor your enemy, necessarily, but rather your adversary, much like an opponent who wants to “win” a situation, as if it were a game (albeit, a rather serious one). Police enjoy the sanctioned ability to infringe on your freedom by tricking you into waiving your liberties, typically by relying on your ignorance of them.
Asserting your civil rights is a form of insurance. Should you genuinely be culpable for some action you committed, then perhaps the extent of your punishment could be mitigated somewhat. Even if you presume you’re totally innocent, politely yet firmly asserting those rights acts as a legal shield that could help you, whether immediately on the street or later in court (this is assuming, of course, that the judiciary bothers to follow the limitations imposed by the applicable constitution and jurisdictional venue governing your case).
Despite the legal maxim that ignorantia juris non excusat, not even the cops themselves know what the laws comprehensively say, which is why they rely on the lawyers. Officers rely solely on their police training while they go about enforcing the law. Therefore, in order to preserve your own freedom, keep yourself focused on task, namely, refusing searches, confessing nothing, and asking whether you are free to leave in peace.
Some people erroneously believe that the techniques of resisting interrogation many guerrillas train for are ineffective and a waste of time for the average civilian. Jan Karski, an operative for the Polish Underground during World War II, explained in his autobiography, Story of a Secret State, how the actual practice of surviving the National Socialist occupation favored (perhaps counter-intuitively), on average, Polish partisans rather than the average Polish citizen. Karski said:
“In June 1940, the Germans staged a manhunt in the streets of Warsaw and seized about twenty thousand people who were taken to three large police stations where they were searched, questioned, and had their documents verified…[a]ll those whose documents were not in perfect order, who could not give a satisfactory account of their ancestry, employment, and political sympathies, or could not clear themselves of charges made against them, were sent to concentration camps…[w]e later learned that about one hundred members of the Underground were caught in this raid. They were, without a single exception, promptly released. Every one of those had his documents in perfect order, could prove his occupation, and supply a satisfactory account of his personal history. Every one had ready answers to every question that were asked of him and impressed the police by his clear, straightforward, and unhesitating manner.”
Notice how those individuals who had prepared ahead of time to deal with the police were the best able to mitigate any harm that could be levied against them. The lesson to take away from this is that even if you are not an American political dissident of any kind, it would still serve your own self-interest to learn how to handle yourself during a police encounter. Just because you may be a sycophantic statist does not therefore mean you automatically enjoy immunity from prosecution, because, quite frankly, everyone is a potential target for harassment by any LEO, at any time, for any reason.
Why can role-playing police interrogations train you to better navigate the quagmire of an actual encounter? Simply giving you formulas is a necessary yet insufficient preparation, because without a working knowledge on how to apply those formulas to a variety of circumstances, such formulas might as well be strictly theoretical instead of also being practical. The idea behind role-playing is to take abstract concepts and make them as realistically concrete as possible, because that is where the true understanding actually takes place. A fabricated experience is still better than a classroom lecture any day of the week.
To get an initial idea on how role-playing these encounters are to be conducted, you may wish to watch the workshop seminar the East Atlanta Copwatch put on last year, or the more scripted scenarios presented by FlexYourRights. Pay attention to how they conduct debriefs of each scenario, and then redo each one, this time avoiding all the mistakes while performing the actions that best asserts their rights. Reliable formulas I’ve seen repeated in these and other similar role-player training videos are:
- Project a calm demeanor
- Never consent to any searches
- Determine if you are being detained, under arrest, or are free to go.
- Alternate between asking questions and being silent in response to questions.
- Don’t run.
- Never lie to the officer, even inadvertently.
- Don’t physically touch the officer.
In accordance with these behavioral guidelines, there are what some call “magic words” you should use, depending on how the interrogation is proceeding. A sample include:
- “Am I being detained?”
- “Am I under arrest?”
- “Am I free to go?”
- “What is the nature of the intended detention?”
- “What crime am I suspected of having committed?”
- “Who accuses me of committing a crime?”
- “Officer, what is your probable cause that I may have committed a crime?”
- “Am I obligated to tell you that?”
- “Is that an order?”
- “Officer, I do not consent to any searches.”
- “I have nothing to say.”
- “I wish to have an attorney present during all further questioning.”
The last three are really the only valid exceptions to the adage I mentioned earlier, because refusing consent, remaining silent, and lawyering up are all civil rights that too many people recklessly waive that would have otherwise, more likely than not, have made the difference between having a criminal record and not having one (or at least, a less severe one).
How does one go about role-playing a police interrogation? At the very minimum, you need one other person who is willing to role-play with you. Props and costumes are helpful in establishing roles, as are verbiage, tone of voice, and body language. Although it is preferable to conduct such role-playing in person, it is also possible to do so only audibly, such as by telephone or VoIP (which negates body language and eye contact, but focuses more on vocal tremors and linguistic content).
What are the “rules of engagement” during such role-playing? The two principle role-players are the Gendarmerie Cop and Joe (or Jane) Civilian; the goal of the Gendarmerie Cop is to get Joe Civilian to admit to doing something “illegal,” whereas the goal of Joe Civilian is to survive the interrogation without confessing. The Gendarmerie Cop may physically intimidate Joe Civilian (such as by shining a light in his face, closing bodily distance, or raising his voice), but he is never allowed to physically touch Joe Civilian (no shoving, frisking, or tackling); this is done for the common sense safety of both role-players (besides, actual cops manhandle enough innocent people as it is). Joe Civilian scores “points” for not giving out any personal information (such as his full legal name, physical or mailing address, Social Security number, or any alibi); by contrast, Joe Civilian gets “demerits” if he lies to the Gendarmerie Cop.
Role-players should brainstorm a variety of scenarios, drafting them up ahead of time (as needed), and letting the individual who’s playing the cop for that particular round decide the situational context for the encounter. Agree on a safe word ahead of time to pause the role-play, just in case of an unavoidable interruption (but not for the sake of the civilian role-player becoming uncomfortable, because acclimatizing to the emotional pressure is one of the chief reasons for role-playing police interrogations in the first place). Always hold a post-roleplay debriefing and discuss what was learned, as well as what was done right and wrong by everybody involved in the scenario.
More advanced interrogation role-playing should at least include 2 or 3 Gendarmerie Cops trying to trip up Joe Civilian, if not also more serious charges looming over the civilian’s head, more aggressively despotic cop tactics, or even the addition of another civilian to introduce a prisoner’s dilemma element to the scenario. I remember a few years back when I and a few other guys were role-playing via VoIP, and we were taking turns being cops and civilians. One scenario’s locale was at a police station, where I was getting double-teamed by two cops, ostensibly at first for what they seemed to be implying that I was aiding and abetting, which was then quickly escalated into concealment of evidence. My fellow role-players decided to up the ante by then insinuating that because they had an eyewitness who claimed I had been visibly angry at a woman I didn’t know who was currently recovering in the local hospital, as well as the call log from the beaten woman’s cellular telephone, that I was looking at a potential attempted murder charge if I didn’t start “cooperating” with their investigation! Needless to say, I stuck to my guns, and after another several minutes of relentless questioning, my buddies ended the scenario by telling me I was cleared of all suspicion; everyone else who was part of the conference call that evening congratulated me on a job well done.
I would like to take a moment here and acknowledge the indispensable contributions made by the modern state citizens when it came to their innovative approaches to handling police encounters. Believe it or not, it was these state citizens who were, to my knowledge, among the very first political dissidents to create, develop, and refine the techniques and strategies for how to deal with the cops, which (ironically) for them was really more as a stepping stone to litigating in court. It wasn’t until other people came along and focused solely on police interrogations did role-playing become as popular as it is today.
In addition to role-playing police interrogations, it couldn’t hurt for you to learn some rudimentary negotiation skills. A collection of Michael Gibson’s simulations are featured on Newgrounds that are free to play, besides the other free demos on ZAP Dramatic (if you were willing, you could also pay a nominal membership fee to play the entire archive). Should you be interested, there are also free demos of Gibson’s otherwise $300 online negotiation course you may want to try out before making a decision on whether to invest in it. Granted, although most of Gibson’s simulations are not in the context of a police encounter, I see no reason why some of the tactics you learned from the other negotiation scenarios couldn’t be transferred over or otherwise incorporated into your role-playing repertoire, as appropriate.
Two other tools deserve mentioning here. One is a digital audio recorder, for reasons I have written about before, and the other would be the infamous “Assert Your Rights” card. Although some have recommended taping role-players as an educational tool with which to review their performance, I’m a bit hesitant to suggest the same for three reasons; namely, its true educational value, its function as a prop, and the likely potential for abuse, even if only inadvertent. The whole point of role-playing police interrogations is to do so live and in the moment, and the debriefs are done the same way only for the benefit of the participants; records are only necessary if you need some evidence of proving something in the future (and as a prop, you could substitute a different object and use sound effects). Besides the technical considerations of download, printing, and laminating a Fifth Amendment card, what is the point of role-playing police interrogations if all you have to do is hand a “magical” card over to the officer? My advice is for you to treat your digital audio recorder the same as you would a firearm, and only rely on the Assert Your Rights card more as a last minute refresher before the interrogation actually begins rather than as a flimsy backup should other techniques backfire.
Police encounters are downright scary, and almost nothing can truly prepare you for the throbbing in your ears or the shortness of breath you will likely experience. You are coming face-to-face with a socialized mercenary who literally holds the coercive power of life and death in his hands, so such an interrogation is not to be taken lightly or rushed. Only by coming to terms with this tyranny by realizing it can very much reach out and touch you are you truly ready to begin dealing with it as a responsible adult. If you can’t do something as basic as surviving a police encounter relatively unscathed, then you have no business litigating pro se in court, either. The more you act as the “grey man,” the better off you’ll be; keep in mind too that police are legally permitted to lie to suspects, but the reverse situation is considered a criminal offense as a false statement. I’ll leave you with what Officer George Bruch of the Virginia Beach Police Department told a law school class several years ago:
“When I record a confession or an interview, because we don’t do interrogations, the police, we do not do interrogations. That’s a bad, mean, Nazi kinda word, ok? We do interviews. You’d be amazed how much difference it makes when you use that one word versus interrogation.”